tv [untitled] January 20, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
>> the measure >> thank you so much. this is great. >> thank you all. >> that puts us on case number 10. 449 powell street. request for conditional use authorization. >> good afternoon. this is a request for a conditional use authorization to convert a vakeant pace on the second through fourth floors of the building to approximately 20,500 square feet of general office use. the space has been vacant for many years, but had been formally used for retail. it is a place of assembly and tourist hotel uses within the c 3 r district. it features 14,000 square feet of retail use on the ground
floor. the upper floors are primarily vacant. during the early to mid 20th century, the earlier floors of the building was home to the press club that included an assembly space and for reporters in town. the hotel and assembly space was terminated 40 years ago and the space has remained primarily vacant since that time. the department has not received comment from the public. we request that the commission approve the project as it will activate long vacant commercial space and provide opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship to diversify the city's space. it will contribute 40,000 dollars to the downtown park fund and the proposed project complies with the planning code and promotes the policies of the general plan. i will be happy to answer any general questions. thank you so much. >> thank you. project sponsor?+++no carrier
commissioners. >> i'm the property manager. thank you for the recommendation to bring this whole building back to life again. i've been involved in helping to manage it for 20 years myself. it is a pity to see it -- suffer this way. so this will -- this ruling will help give us some more possibilities for finding -- finding tenants for the empty space. however, -- part of the package that -- that has been presented is -- the -- we understand the $40,000 for the park fund, which we -- i didn't know that until a few days ago. unfortunately. but the other pat part -- the other part of the plan is have the ownership provide for trees on powell street and sutter street in front of the building. this -- this -- i think is -- is
going to be a very bad thing. i don't think there's any other trees around union square in front of tiffanys or -- sachs or -- macy's. there's -- there's going to be a really -- a bad thing for the retail tenants on the building. i don't know -- i brought some -- some pictures of what is already here. this is the most valuable storefront -- these storefronts that the tenants pay for. this is the most valuable asset in the country having windows around union square. the merchants. and to be blocked by trees. this is -- this store already has -- these -- these newspaper stands that were put up fortunately right in front of the property a short time ago. they -- they blocked -- the store fronts. they're not being used.
this is the francis drake hotel. putting trees up and down the street are going to be really bad. on our block, on powell street, this is our windows. a restaurant, pancake house, around -- they have lines around the corner in the morning hours. the congestion of having trees on the street is also -- going to be a really bad thing. there's no trees to track litter and dogs. it is going to be a really sad thing. the idea of blocking the storefront windows, these valuable storefront windows, would be a very sad thing to see happen. on union square. i hope you -- you let us not have to do that. i appreciate your consideration very much. i think that -- other than that, i'm very appreciative. if you have any questions.
>> great. thank you. >> is there any public comment on this matter? seeing none, public comment is closed. commissioner moore. >> this is a very funny store, i'm going to have to tell it. for the last 20 years, each time i go to the dentist, which i do every three months, i look at upper floors of the building. it is actually -- i ask everybody, why is this beautiful building empty? because obviously we all know we don't use sometimes. so i talk with -- with supervisor chiu about two years ago as to whether or not a blight ordinance could really ask why certain buildings are empty. in this case, i thought nobody cared about the building, because only the ground floor is used. only to realize today that it will -- it really requires a conditional use, a change use -- which i was unaware of.
so i'm delighted to support that indeed somebody moves in and uses this, gorgeous building and -- i would really actually ask the department to -- that -- to reexamine the request for trees because the sidewalk is much too small, even if you are walking down towards the -- the bookstore or whatever. you barely can make it, with two people next to each other. somebody coming the opposite direction, you basically have to get out of the way. so i think that is not the sidewalk to do it. the only place that has a resemblance of a -- of a planter is actually tiffany but it is a plan to mark the entrance in front of tiffany on the sachs avenue side. it is a much wider side. probably twice the width and i can see that because they -- they cannot take out where the signs. they use the planters to mark the entrance. i would not really support a staff recommendation in trees and approve the -- approve the request for changing the u.s.
and make a motion that we approve this. >> is there a second? >> second. >> commissioner borden? >> i'm -- pretty much commissioner moore stated my feelings. i think it is great after 40 years, the space is going to be used. i think what is great about buildings like this, they tend to have more affordable space for smaller firms. i'm excited to see this put to good use. would agree that sidewalk in that area -- is very difficult for adding trees to. >> commissioner? >> i'm supportive of this but actually have a contrary thought about trees. having a building on a high traffic street in san francisco that has equal or more traffic than this particular location has and has the cape cable car that trees don't seem to take away anything from the value of the building. they do enhance the sidewalk
overall feel. iee you -- i see you shaking your head. i know about your -- the signage on the window. the trees will be way above eye level. i saw something that adds to the character of the street and maybe a high dead pedestrian street. having that as an important treat for the cable cars to come down and the st. francis hotel across the street, i think it would be nice for tourists at that stop to be a lit -- to see greenery that adds a connects to what green we have at union square. >> to be clear, there's -- there is -- if you choose not to have the tree requirement, there's a process that we work with public works to -- to waive it. there's an in lou of fee. i would say -- in spite of the
concerns, we hear that concern a lot about the conflict between storefronts and trees. sthrst trees all over the -- there's trees -- streets all over the city that have trees. i want to point out that the trees are typically in line with all of the things, like the news boxes and everything else. they don't absolutely have to provide additional structure. it is your call. we could work with this as an exception, either way. >> commissioner an nene -- antonini. >> i would like the staff to look at it and see if it were possible to implement the tree thing. i think trees and planters would be the most reasonable. then you could move them in locations that are closer to the curb and there by not impeding the flow of traffic that is closer to the building. so -- but that's just my opinion
on that. by think you could go either way on it. >> commissioner sugaya. >> how many trees we talking about? one? >> you have those newspaper racks in the way. other stuff. you have awnings coming out. i don't know. that's on another property. i just want to point out that -- since i go down that part of powell street, at least a couple of times a week, people use the walk there to stand and wait to get in to sears. and they're standing right with these trees are going to be. so, you -- if you do that, you going to have all of these people now standing further -- closer to the buildings which further impedes the -- the -- the traffic flow for
pedestrians. >> com misser commissioner moore: moore would it be possible not to make it contingent of we determine exactly where it is. the newspaper racks are excessively long. and i assume you're agreing with me. if there could be like mediating between -- between medium and sized or smaller sized newspapers and which are taken -- both of these empty rather often, lighting -- i would be happy to do that but perhaps that could be done independently and really more in a big sweep, you look at the spire block, how it tracks around san francisco and on. rather than sticking this project which is something i don't think we could resolve here. >> i think -- i assume you want to move forward with approving? >> yes. >> the question is only -- maybe direct staff to work with the project sponsor and public works to grirg out the right solution on the sidewalks.
might be some trees and less. whatever the accommodation is. that's a reasonable approach. >> commissioner fong. commissioner fong: i want to be clear, the bigger picture here is to change the use of the building and get this beautiful great building back in action. i'm supportive of that. won't get into moving trees here and there. i hope you understand and respect that trees are good and whenever we have an opportunity to put them in, even in crowded conditions, they're helpful. >> i would agree with commissioner fong on this. it is something that i think would be worthy of further discussion and -- i think it is beneficial to the city. as you mentioned, there is tourist there is and have greenery. i think that's all nice. i support that conversation happening. >> for clarification on the record, the maker of the motion is amenable to the modification and the secondary is the same.
we have a motion and second. >> uh-huh. >> on the motion to approve, with conditions, commissioner antonini. >> aye borden aye fong aye moore aye long aye sugaya aye. that passes unanimously and places us on item 14. >> do we have a variance? >> yes, we do. move ahead to 15. i'm sorry about that. going to 14 a and 14 b. 34 through 36 pleasant street. request for use authorizations and variances. >> commissioner olague, i have to recuse myself for the public. i live with -- in the -- in -- the critical distance to the project and you cannot
participate in the deliberations. >> asking to be recused. >> second. >> recuse commissioner moore. >> second. >> >> on the motion for recusal of commissioner moore. commissioner antonini. >> stepped out. >> excuse me. commissioner borden. >> aye. >> commissioner fong aye. commissioner moore aye. sugaya aye. olague aye. so moved, commissioners, that motion passes, 5-0. we'll now hear from staff. >> good afternoon, commissioners i'm rick crawford of department staff. this is a request for conditional use authorization for a building over 40 feet tall in a residential district. the project would add two floors to the existing three-story residential dwelling creating --
a 49-foot 9-inch tall five-story building with a height limit of 65 feet. the addition will increase as the number of dwelling units from two to three. the project is within their r.m. 3 and 65 a districts. the project requires a rear yard variance, because the two floors aligned with the rear wall of the neighboring building will enroach in the rear yard. the building has a rear yard of only four feet, but the addition would be set back 11. the project site is in the densely developmented area of nobody hill. the character of the development is resident the buildings from three to five stories in height, with a large six-story 24 unit apartment building at the pleasant and jones street corner. other taller buildings fronting on -- on sacramento street. the residential buildings fronting on pleasant, generally contain two to four units and larger buildings front on the
four surrounding streets containing apartment buildings ranging from nine to 24 units. the citywide plan for alley guidelines states that building heights should not compete 2.5 times the width of the alley orb be set back at the upper stories to preserve visual access to the sky. a 45 tall building would be able to be constructed without obstructing the upper floors. the upper floor has been set back so as not to be visible from the street level. the propotesed height is harmonious with the participates in the area. the project was found to be consistent with the character, height and bulk of existing buildings in the neighborhood, by the residential design team. the project has reevidence sao 20 comments if opposition -- and i'm in support of the project. the commission is asked to
approve it as it adds a new dwelling unit. the district is well served by transit, therefore, area residents should not impact traffic and the requested variance complies and complies with the policies of the plan. i'm happy to answer questions. >> thank you. project sponsor? >> good afternoon. my name is ahmad. i'm with tech architects. i'm the project architect. thank you so much for hearing our case. we been waiting for this for -- for this day for two years. our first preapplication hearing -- was a meeting with the planning department was in december of 2008. we're just really thrilled to death to be here. in the last -- in the last two
years, i have -- we have met with the planners and preapplication. we have met with the neighbors in -- in a -- a project review context. we had them over to the house. we made modifications. we -- we have done a historical resource evaluation. we have done a shadow study, we have worked with with the planner and also with the neighborhood design group to -- to whittle away at the project. it is shorter and smaller and more transparent. in fact, i well -- welcome the way the project has turned out. i i don't want to belabor the design too much. i think -- i think -- your staff has done a wonderful job. i love to show a few photos. and why? because it came to -- it came to
me a few minutes ago -- this was this will zoom somehow. a few minutes ago when we were outside, i came to understand that the neighbors may be -- may be under the misimpression that we're adding more than we are. what is -- what is there currently, this little hole in the block face is our -- is our building, which is in fact -- cl is in fact this. that's -- that's the building as it stands from -- from -- from uphill. this is what we're -- what we're doing to i uphill. this is what we're -- what we're doing to it as we had manned. this is our view from -- from downhill.
and this is what we are planning to do with it. now, i -- i can sense from behind me someone may say, this is quite disingenuous, you're only showing the three floors you could see. that's because we went up and down and right and left and tried to find a place where we could see more of the building, more of the spot and we could not. now, i -- i have brought with me, let's see what it shows. let's -- turn this right here. keep it right side up. a diagram of the maps of the building. you could see the -- the blue in -- in the center, this blue mass is the mass of our building on the street face. the two on the side are our neighbors. the -- the -- what is orange on my screen and brown on this is -- is our -- what we call or penthouse level. that's jennifer to the left and austin's to the right.
the -- the really light green line up on top is the -- the black that we have proposed on top for our deck. so we have tried very hard to come up with something that is -- that fits within the neighborhood. the opposition is most generally coming from -- from one specific -- from one specific person and -- in fact, i have a picture here showing the light and ventilation that -- that you will lose. this is a picture of the penthouse window on the property directly to our west. there is a -- there is a penthouse study in this apartment. our top floor will extend to where my hatch marks, my sloppy hatch marks go. there still in fact is a view. this is entirely an issue of view. this is -- this is the view that will -- that will remain.
on her -- on her railing side, you also -- you all saw a letter from her -- expressing my shock when i came up to her apartment. the reason i was -- the reason that i expressed my shock was at the outrageous amount of money she paid for her hand rails. our -- the top of the mass of our building goes to again the top of the hatched line. that is the top of where we are, where -- we're at the top floor of our building. we worked very hard to get there. lastly -- lastly i have a -- a -- i have something which i showed -- which i showed rick crawford earlier. it is a transparent -- >> your time is up for you. thank you. now public comment, we have several speaker cards. timothy collins. jonathan palk and elka jarvis.
>> i'm timothy collins. i -- i served on the planning commission for four years. i served on the regional planning commission and the code review com plitity. i want to congratulate for serving on the planning commission. i know what a commitment it is. you're doing a good job. this -- we live -- my wife and i -- she had to go to a meeting unfortunately. i try to say some of the things she would say. we have lived at 56 pleasant which is two buildings up from the applicant. we developed that building, redeveloped the building from scratch and sold off the lower units. it is a three-unit building. we live in the top unit. we would look down at the applicant's structure and the two neighbors. we -- we lived -- we owned and
lived this the building that adjoins it which is the -- austin hills building, which is 26 pleasant, we sold that to austin hills about five years ago. we have a bit of equity in the neighborhood. we kind of moved up the street. and to this house. now the house we repaired was standing vacant for about three years. so, it was quite a job. having sat on the planning commission, i'm familiar with plans and i reviewed everything on your website for the applicants. i reviewed the plans. i think what you have on pleasant street on the north side which is the street with the two and three store buildings, except at the very top which is five stories, this is -- when the tourists walk down the street, they're looking at our side of the street. the other side is kind of sacramento influenced. and -- it is beautiful the way it cascades down the street.
so what the applicant wants to do is add an extra floor which would stop that cascading effect. in your own words the scale of the street would be changed. and you can say it is not changed for the setback but -- one of the problems that you have at san francisco when you're looking at the small little -- not brownstones but small vick yarn -- victorian buildings, the people at the top, there's a light that goes on top of the buildings. and for instance, from our deck, our view, we would lose a view of north beach which we -- we don't want to lose. we rather not lose that view. i really -- i really, as you go down the street and you -- you end at the bottom of pleasant, you that's the bore del low.
this is a charming street -- i don't think -- so i can't approve the fourth story. that's the problem. they should come back with three stories. >> thank you. keep calling cards. names. steve jarvis, ellen birmingham, dipa thomas. tim culler. >> good afternoon commissioners. my name is elka jarvis. the proposed height is neither desirable, necessary or compatible with the present neighborhood. a large percentage of the buildings post a 94% of the buildings are either three stories or less in that neighborhood. to allow this project to go further, it would have a severe negative impact. for each approval given, to
construct a building -- a building higher than current three story buildings, which are majority of the buildings, that will set a precedent in the future for some other developer to come over and add -- ask or request a -- for further height to their new buildings. this will have a profound negative and devastating impact on the neighborhood. any type of allowance criteria should be based on value the project is giving to the neighborhood, and in this case, i see none. the architect claimed they have met with the neighbors and i'm one of the neighbors, and i'm not here when this meeting was held, how much advance notice was given to the residents, to attend that meeting. and consideration should be given to the current homeowners and the negative impact of this project on the surrounding
houses. lots of light to the property on the west side will be tremendous i'm not sure if the dofrle or the architect has done any study on this. i've not seen any reports. we recognize the homeowner/architect, developer faces a challenge as the lot is suller -- smaller. however, to build the project that is not conducive to the surrounding is absolutely not justified. i urge you to stop the developer from negatively impacting of a neighborhood. thank you. >> thank you. >> my name is dipa thomas. we live across the street from the applicant. it is a congenal neighborhood. we like to keep it that way. we absolutely support the renovation of this house because it is -- it is pretty rundown at the moment and is a nice from
where we live. roof falling down, et cetera, not in keeping with the street. i think the objection here is what it does to the well-being of the entire street. we love to see a three-floor renovation. anything more than that is a -- is really impacting the quality of life. on this street and i just wanted to submit that for your consideration. i think the opposition is simply more than three floors. thank you. >> thank you. >> hello, i'm ellen birmingham, i live across the street. i am curious how many of you have been to pleasant, because it is a cute and quaint street. as you stand at the top of the hill, you see a gradual sloping line going down the hill. most of those buildings with the exception of the top are three-story buildg